Sunday 6 August 2006

rhubarb crumble cake for poppa

Yesterday my Poppa passed away. It wasn’t unexpected, but it’s always sad.

The biggest comfort was that he lived a long life, survived two open heart surgeries, asbestosis and emphysema and finally passed away from a long case of pneumonia. For someone who smoked almost all his life, he had a brilliant run.

Darcy Frederick Miller was born 1 March 1922 and died 5 August 2006, aged 84. His grandfather had been part of the Danish nobility yet Poppa grew up a total Aussie and even got teased by his grandfather “I used to play with princes in palaces, you play in the dirt!”

The early childhood dirt might have turned out to be a blessing because he grew up to be an excellent gardener and most of the food he and Nan ate came from their well-tended backyard. Beans, spinach, carrots, tomatoes and more – it was delicious and always appreciated by my mum who used to happily take home a green grocer’s load every time she’d visit.

He also used to grow rhubarb and so this Weekend Herb Blogging will be my own little tribute.

This recipe was devised after phone-administered cooking guidance from Sandra (who incidently makes the world's best rhubarb and apple crumble).

For all the other recipes from around the globe, check out Christa's recap at Calendula & Concrete.

Rhubarb Crumble Cake
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 8.

Stewed Rhubarb
1 bunch of rhubarb (1.5 kg.)
¼ cup castor sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
250g plain flour
280g unsalted butter cut into cubes and chilled
160g dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven 180’C. Grease springform cake tin and line with baking paper.
2. Clean and trim rhubarb. String if necessary. Cut into chunks then place in saucepan with castor sugar, orange juice, orange zest and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Stew until rhubarb is soft and beginning to break down.
3. Take crumble ingredients and, using fingertips, mix together until a breadcrumb consistency is formed.
4. Press half of the crumble mixture into the base of the baking tin. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
5. Top with stewed rhubarb mixture and more crumble mixture and then bake for another 15-20 minutes, until crumble has a crispy, brown top. Be careful not to burn.
6. Cool and serve with vanilla ice cream or cream.

I got some great facts on rhubarb from the Rhubarb Compendium.
The first record of rhubarb cultivation was in China in 2700 BC where it was used for medicinal purposes. Marco Polo was so enamoured with rhubarb that he waxed lyrical at every opportunity and this led to Chinese rhubarb becoming widely used in European medicine, although the first recorded planting was noted in 1608. Europeans loved the stuff but in 1759 the Qianlong emperor of China forbade any export of tea or rhubarb to the West after border conflicts with Russia. In 1778, rhubarb was first recorded as a food plant in Europe where it was a filling for tarts and pies. Sometime between 1790 and 1800 an unidentified Maine farmer brought rhubarb seed to America and by 1822 it was for sale in Massachusetts produce markets.

Rhubarb is a tart plant and needs sweeteners to be added. It can be stored in sealed plastic bags in the fridge for two to three weeks. It’s easy to grow and is a wonderful harvest for hungry grandkids.

Take care Poppa. We’ll miss you.


  1. What a lovely tribute to him. I bet he would be very pleased by it. He must have been very proud of you.

  2. So sorry to hear about your poppa! I hope you're doing okay. x

  3. Sorry to hear about your loss, Anna. Even though it may have been expected, it's no less sad & painful. Hope you found at least some comfort in this special rhubarb dessert!

  4. Hi, tried this recipe and it was very yummy, thanks for putting it out there "o)


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